Here is an update now that we are two months (rather than 3 weeks) into our work with intentions. Since Kerry and I have introduced this idea of "intention," I have been fascinated by the ripple effects. One of the biggest impacts I see is in the children's awareness of their process as we move through their day. To state your intentions requires a degree of metacognition and creates a foothold for reflection that allows for a different kind of experience than when you simply find yourself in a place with no awareness of how you arrived, if this is where you want to be or if you were a part of the process of getting there.
With the practice of explaining their intentions each and every time they go out to story workshop, our first and second graders begin story workshop with self identified goals and self-motivating energy to meet their own expectations. Holding children accountable while giving both support and expectation honors their abilities to set their own course and supports their ability to reflect on what worked and what didn't. Our expectations of follow-through become just a natural extention of their intention for the day. I often ask kids what they feel really good about at the end of a work time and the responses are much richer when there was an awareness of intention. Children feel proud of both their work that met their intention as well as their awareness of their flexibility when they exceed their own expectation or are suprised by a new idea that woke up a new intention.
Indeed, we are wondering together about the process of "changing" intentions and are currently involved in conversations with students who are articulating why they want to change course (start a new story or material) in a more explicit way then I've experienced before. I have also found that engaging with a child around their intentions (while sometimes a long process) is so useful in having a point of co-creation with a child that still allows the child to maintain their role as protagonist in their own learning.
As we've used intentions this year we've discovered that "staying open to possibility" is a very important intention that – once owned – allows young children to view any bend in the road as one of opportunity. It is so empowering to have a child whose intention was to stay open and see what would happen recieve the positive feedback of making something new from an "oops" or finding inspiration for their story in a surprising place.
Certainly this word "intention" is one alive in our room but we have yet to unpack all of the possibilities. I am wondering about the possiblity of unpacking the relationship between intent and impact in the social emotional realm. It feels like there are a great many possibilites inherent in the idea of intentional community. I am also really curious about the impact of all this intentions work on the development of executive function and habits of mind that support focus, motivation and reflection: some of the 21st century skills Kerry speaks of in an earlier post. Kerry and I are both curious about how this idea of intention will unfold as the year moves on. I must admit, I am not sure if I really believed children could be so metacognitive about their plans, but I am once again amazed.